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Winter trips to the zoo

The great thing about zoos is that their operations are not limited to a single season. While they are undoubtedly their busiest during the summer months, trips to the zoo don’t have to be an exclusively warm-weather activity; there is plenty to experience in the winter months as well.

See animals in their prime as they enjoy the cooler temperatures

See animals in their prime as they enjoy the cooler temperatures

Why plan a winter trip to the zoo?
While a visit to the zoo may not be the first winter activity families think of doing, there are many benefits of visiting during the off-season. For many visitors, the number one reason to plan a trip outside of the summer months is to be able to enjoy the up close and personal animal experience without the crowds.

Some families worry that the lack of crowds are due to the fact that there are a limited number of animals to see, but this is not the case. During their time at the zoo, even animals from warmer climates acclimate to the cool winter temperatures. While every animal, even the cold weather ones, have access to heated indoor enclosures they are happy to spend the majority of their time outdoors.

This means that there’s a very good chance that you will see all of the same animals that you would in the summer. In fact, you may even have the chance to see some of these animals in their prime as they enjoy the cooler temperatures. For lovers of polar bears, penguins, and other arctic animals, in particular, a winter trip is a must as they are likely to be much more active than during the summer months.

Another benefit of planning a winter trip to the zoo is that there are often seasonal activities for families enjoy. In additional to the animals, many zoos have organized activities such as skating, holiday light shows, or themed festivals for families to enjoy.

Just like this arctic fox, make sure you dress for the cooler temperatures

Just like this arctic fox, make sure you dress for the cooler temperatures

Things to consider when planning a winter trip to the zoo
When planning your winter trip to the zoo, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration. Unlike in the summer when your primary concern is extreme heat, in the winter the biggest focus will be on warmth.

When choosing clothes to wear, layers are key. Wearing layers will make it easier to add and remove items as you move between the indoor to outdoor pavilions or if the weather changes drastically. It’s also a great idea to pack extra socks and mitts that can be swapped with any pairs that become wet. If temperatures are going to be particularly chilly, you can also pack a few disposable hand warmers that you can pop into your mitts for additional heat.

Regarding warm meals, it’s a good idea to check your zoo’s policy on bringing personal drinks and snacks onto the grounds. If they allow it, a thermos of warm soup or hot chocolate can be a great pick-me-up to enjoy while taking a break. If you’re not allowed to bring your own food or drinks, make sure you have money on hand so you can purchase them from one of the zoo's restaurants or concession stands.

Be aware that frigid winter temperatures may limit the time some animals spend outdoors

Be aware that frigid winter temperatures may limit the time some animals spend outdoors

Another important thing to keep in mind is the fact that cold temperatures aren’t only a concern for the zoo visitors. Regardless of the climate your favourite animal is from, frigid winter temperatures may limit their time spent outdoors. While it changes from zoo to zoo, on the coldest days of the winter animals such as primates, giraffes, tropical birds, kangaroos, and elephants may be kept inside their heated enclosure. Knowing this, it’s important to take the day’s weather into consideration when planning your trip.

Next time you’re planning a winter outing the whole family will enjoy, don’t overlook your local zoo. The minimal crowds, opportunity to see animals in their natural climate, and seasonal activities results in a zoo experience completely different than available in the summer. Trust us when we say that it’ll be worth braving the cold for!

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